The major trading event E3 will take place this year as expected, but with one big, disappointing change: it will be entirely online. This is not a surprising announcement given the recent massive spike in worrying Omicron broadcasting leading to record numbers of COVID-19 cases in the US, where the show is held.
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E3 will take place online … again
The Electronic Entertainment Expo – most commonly referred to as E3 – is a huge trade show that takes place every summer. Usually the event takes place in person, where publishers and developers showcase their game products, among other things.
E3 2021 was the first time the show was broadcast as a “global, interactive” online event, but it won’t be the last. the Entertainment software association (ESA) has confirmed that E3 will also take place online in 2022 due to the continued spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, another wave of falls and the arrival of a new, particularly affected variant.
ESA made a very brief statement on the decision, saying:
Due to the ongoing health risks related to COVID-19 and the possible effects on the safety of exhibitors and participants, E3 2022 will not take place in person. We are still incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to sharing more details soon.
While we will have to wait for more details, the event will likely take place online this summer in the same general format we saw last year. It is possible, however, for ESA to mix things up a little. If you contact us for confirmation, the event will be held online, the association announced Venture beat that she was “enthusiastic about the possibilities of an online event”.
Not the first time
We’re probably still about half a year away from the scheduled dates for the event, but given the history of the pandemic and its current state, it’s not surprising that the collective behind E3 decided early on to exercise caution. As with other major events, E3 often attracts large numbers of visitors, including international travelers, and such gatherings remain both a personal and a public health safety hazard.
The decision could have been fueled by recent criticism of CES 2022 and the decision to hold the event in person despite Omicron. Some have referred to the electronics show as a “superspreader” because of the large number of participants and the usually crowded and cramped nature of the event.
Why should ESA make this massive decision in January? Probably for logistical reasons. Although the event will (most likely) take place this summer, months of work will need to be completed in advance, including identifying the participating companies and their exhibition needs.
This is not the first time a major event has moved to an online-only format due to the pandemic, health concerns, and regulations restricting large gatherings. For example, BlizzCon 2021 took place online, while some other major events such as IFA 2021 were completely canceled. Deciding early on to host the event online will help protect yourself from possible last minute changes that could cause an unexpected future wave of COVID-19.
What about GDC?
The big question now is whether the Game Developers Conference (GDC) planned for the end of March will remain on site as currently planned or whether it will switch to a similar online-based format. This event is similar to E3 in that it involves the gaming industry and often attracts large crowds.
It was announced last summer that GDC 2022 would be held in person, and that has not changed for now. However, growing pressure from health authorities, the current criticism of the CES as a superspreader event, and peer pressure from others in the industry can lead to a last-minute format change.
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